The S&P Global Market Intelligence found that nearly 80 percent of organizations implemented work-from-home policies because of the pandemic. You’ll see it in almost all companies all over the world.
It’s been over two years since, and not everyone is back or ever wants to go back to work in-office. This just goes to show just how important it is to learn the impacts of maintaining mental health while working from home.
The Workplace Setup Before the Pandemic
Going to work was so much more than a job. Before the pandemic, it meant:
- Changing your external environment each day
- Getting a break from the kids and family (No distractions)
- Having the ability to keep working at work
- Experiencing face-to-face social interaction with colleagues
- Everything necessary to do your job was within reach
- Fixing computer or IT problems was a phone call away
We bet you never realized that doing work at the office was so easy, and many of us took it for granted. Plus, you don’t want to miss everybody’s kooky GIFs. So, why is your mental health suffering while working from home?
What Are the Adverse Effects of Working From Home?
Like millions of others worldwide, you probably felt excited to work from home when the lockdowns were implemented in early 2020. You were probably thinking of all the extra sleep you can clock in the morning and how you won’t have to dress up for work every single day.
A few weeks in, you probably thought it was not so bad. You got to learn new recipes and spend more time watching your favorite Netflix shows. Then, after a few months, you see everyone starting to question their sanity.
To give you an idea, here’s how this big shift to a WFH setup has affected the millions of workers all over the world:
Heightened Levels of Anxiety
When working from home, it’s tempting to attend to the kids or deal with household chores. You might want to throw in a load of laundry or begin to prepare for dinner in between meetings.
Guilt-associated anxiety creeps in because you know you are expected to meet the responsibility of the job as usual. Not only that, but Forbes found that four out of five people surveyed had a difficult time shutting down at the end of their regular workday.
Feeling Depressed, Sad, and Alone
Some of us live alone, so when we work from home, we can become isolated from the outside world. Sitting in front of a computer and being ready for the camera separates you from the real world. When your last meeting of the day and your remote interactions are done, you are left with a quiet, solemn home.
Additionally, social distancing has limited any social connection to others you once had. Like many others, you probably never expected to feel lonely as a result of working from home. Plus, you never realized that living with feelings of isolation can cause insomnia and even physical health issues leading to poor job performance.
Feeling anxious, sad, and overwhelmed are reasons to be depressed. As your work-from-home life lumbers on, feeling indifferent where there is no positive reinforcement can lead to depression and poor work performance.
Subsequently, depression and feelings of isolation can also produce a loss of appetite, a lack of concentration, a reduced sex drive, and irritability.
Maintaining Mental Health While Working From Home
So, how do you cope during this difficult time? Dr. Nicole LePera, a California-based psychologist, agrees that working from home is hard and provides some worthwhile tips for maintaining mental health while working from home.
1. Break up the workday.
Working in a place you associate with relaxation can be a bit confusing. Dr. LePera recommends that you break up the monotony by breaking up the schedule. You might try a blast of physical movement or a short stroll around the neighborhood if it’s a nice day outside.
2. Stay connected.
Connections can be a challenge when you cannot leave your home for long periods of time. However, isolation is easily remedied by staying connected with friends and family.
Connections through Zoom or Apple’s FaceTime can help keep you up to date on your friends and family’s lives. Even if they are busy, sending a simple text to those you care about will do the trick.
3. Stick to a routine.
Working from home gives you the flexibility to manage your own schedule. That means you can deviate from the old nine-to-five regimen. However, establishing a routine will provide you with a structure that will help you succeed.
A routine can be as simple as waking up at the same time each day or moving to your home office after a quick morning run on the treadmill. Sticking to a routine will also help you prioritize your tasks and steer you away from tempting distractions.
Also, don’t forget to treat yourself to a 15-minute morning break and a 15-minute afternoon break, even when working from home. Make sure you also get a one-hour lunch break. Your mind will appreciate the mental break.
We suggest finding time to do non-work-related things to keep you productive and your daily schedule flexible. For example, you can listen to relaxing music, read your favorite book, or practice meditation.
4. Engage in wellness activities.
Take advantage of working from home and join in a couple of wellness activities. Try virtual yoga or regular exercise. On the other hand, you might also want to find a quiet, relaxing place for practicing meditative breathing.
Avoid staying in the same place for long periods of time. Some movement will help get your blood flowing and keep you thinking straight. It’s entirely up to you. The key is to build some sort of physical activity into your routine.
5. Upgrade your home office.
There is nothing more frustrating and can contribute to producing stress hormones than a bad or interrupted internet connection. By upgrading your home office with up-to-date IT equipment, you can avoid missing your meeting or experiencing a dropped signal on calls with colleagues. Additionally, you’ll be happy to know that video conferencing software is improving all of the time.
6. Set healthy boundaries.
When your workday is over, you will want to physically disconnect from your office’s network. In other words, stop working. Your work is done for today, and tomorrow is another day. The work will still be there in the morning.
7. Don’t forget to mentally decompress.
There are many ways to decompress. Using your brainpower to learn fun and exciting things can lead to the relief you need after a day behind the computer. You also may want to exercise, meditate, or do some mindless activity like attending to your plants.
Some of our favorites include:
- Learning how to cook
- Learning how to play the guitar or piano
- Finding time to work in your garden
- Learning how to paint
- Taking a walk around the neighborhood
- Reading a good book
FAQs About Mental Health and Working From Home
1. What does working from home do to your brain?
This study found that isolation and loneliness cause older people to poorly perform on thinking ability tests. Our brains need to be stimulated with new sounds, sights, and experiences. Challenging new activities will help our cognitive brains think better.
2. What is so stressful about working from home?
Change is difficult for almost everyone. During the pandemic, many employees were voluntold to work from home with little to no notice. This sudden change generated unexpected autonomy and limited social interactions while upheaving routines, creating unrelenting stress as a result.
3. How do I get my brain ready to work?
There are certain things we can do to enable your brain to work better. They include getting plenty of sleep, following regular meal times, eating healthy food, doing moderate exercise, cleansing your brain, learning new things, and just taking a break.
4. Why don’t companies want you to work from home?
A company’s leadership is reluctant to have their employees work from home because they want to see results and aren’t really concerned about the hours. They want to see your beautiful face in the office every day to know you’re being productive.
Other times, it is also about controlling their employees. When you work from home, they feel like they’ve lost control.
5. How do you keep working when you’re not very motivated?
We all have felt uninspired at work at one time. However, working from home can cause you to be even more demotivated. So, what should you do to keep yourself motivated? First of all, don’t consider it hard work. It’s also a good idea to set small attainable goals, read every day, and stop being concerned with the little things.
Are Remote Workers Happier?
The simple answer is yes. An Owl Labs survey found that those working remotely were happier at home and more satisfied with their jobs. Survey results also revealed that more than 20% of those who worked from home were more cheerful at the end of their workday than workers who made it into the office.
Furthermore, these happy workers experienced lower levels of stress, improved concentration, and better home life. As a matter of fact, 43% stayed at their jobs for more than 40 hours every week as compared with those workers who never worked from home.